Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

From Here To Eternia

Poster art by Drew Struzan
I generally don't subscribe to the concept of "guilty pleasures." I've always felt that you should never be ashamed or feel guilty about liking "bad" movies (or anything else, for that matter), because the point of entertainment is to enjoy yourself, and it doesn't matter why you like something, as long as you have fun.

That said, when it comes to the 1987 live-action, Cannon Films adaptation of the Filmation cartoon series, Masters Of The Universe, I do sometimes feel a bit embarrassed. Mostly because I've found that admitting my fondness for the fantasy flick inevitably leads to ridicule. Never mind that the production design (by the great William Stout) is gorgeous, or that the Rob Conti-emulating-John Williams score is big, bombastic and beautiful, or that Frank Langella's portrayal of sorcerer Skeletor is sly and satisfyingly sinister... it's based on an 80s cartoon starring a guy named "He-Man."

And I don't even like the cartoon.

But I do like the Gary Goddard-directed movie, which comes out on a (unfortunately bare-bones) Blu-ray today, and I liked it even when I dragged my then-girlfriend to see it in theater in the Summer of 1987. It's just a fun, fast-paced fantasy adventure with a memorable cast (Dolph Lundgren in his first lead role, a young Courtney Cox, icy-eyed & sexy Meg Foster, and the unforgettable Billy Barty, among others), terrific 80s special effects, and a ridiculous plot that hangs together just... well enough.

It's not a classic of the genre, and it may not even be very good, subjectively, but I like it a lot (for all of the reasons cited above), and will be picking up the Blu-ray edition this week.

ADDENDUM: My local Bull Moose store - where I buy the DVDs and Blu-rays I'm too impatient to order online - actually let me down this week, as they didn't get any Master Of The Universe Blu-rays. According to their computer, all the other stores in the chain got copies, but their store didn't. Oh well, I put one on order. Hopefully they'll get it in by my next trip to town....


Rip Jagger said...

You and me both. This movie is a two hoots and a half to watch, a real barn burner with (as you say) just enough 80's special effects to keep it cranking.

Langella's Skeletor is downright frightening, and Meg Foster's eyes have burned into my soul since I first saw them in an adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. Lundgren does what he has to, but he looks great for sure.

I'm less thrilled with Billy Barty than you are, but the young actors in this one art worthy enough. And the actor's name escapes me, but the guy who plays the cop is delightfully gruff.

I read somewhere long ago that this was for all intents and purposes a stealth adaptation of Jack Kirby's New Gods and I see the connection.

Rip Off

El Vox said...

The poster is cool indeed. I never saw that movie though I may have to remedy that. The cartoon was big stuff back then, although I never paid any attention to them either. I don't know if you've ever seen the Travel Channel's show, Toy Hunter, but it's fun to watch and brings back a lot of childhood memories when he talks about toys and where they came from.

Derrick Ferguson said...

I hear you about "guilty pleasures" I have no love for the phrase myself. And I also hear you about MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. I had absolutely zero love for the cartoon but everytime this movie comes on TV I watch it faithfully.

Oddly enough, friends of mine who are rabid fans of the cartoon detest this movie. All I know is that if the cartoon had been more like the movie, I'd have watched it.

And yeah, Meg Foster is all kinds of sexy, ain't she?